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Is ‘e-commerce’ as we know it dead? Expert predictions for 2023


By Sam Anderson | Editor, The Drum Network

September 22, 2022 | 6 min read

At a recent roundtable on digital commerce present and future, we asked six experts from The Drum Network one simple question: what will change over the next year? For our e-commerce deep dive, here are their predictions – including one bold prediction that we won’t be talking about ‘e-commerce’ at all in 12 months’ time.

An abandoned shopping cart

6 experts tell us what they think is in store for e-commerce next year / Bruno Kelzer via Unsplash

Nicholas Crane, commerce lead director, Adapt Worldwide: The end of ‘e-commerce’

My prediction for 2023 is the decline in usage of the word ‘e-commerce.’ The advent of hybrid commerce has led to the decreased distinction between online and offline, with silos being broken. So online and offline marketing teams should be increasingly collaborative.

My view is that it will increasingly and simply be known as ‘commerce,’ dropping the ‘e.’ The fall of the ‘e’ will be akin to the loss of the word ‘online,’ which was once commonplace in consumer searches but is now a given. My title is ‘commerce lead director’ – I did actually negotiate from ‘e-commerce lead director.’

Laura Cullen, global commerce director, VMLY&R Commerce: A world remade by recession

The role of premium and branded products is going to change. This year, it will start to feel different. The UK at least, and the rest of the world as well, is losing its disposable income. We’re coming to the tail-end of Covid-19; war between Russia and Ukraine has caused instability; supply chains have failed; energy bills are skyrocketing. Everything’s going wrong.

Where shoppers might have been inclined to buy branded products as comfort items or luxury treats coming out of a few bad years, the financial squeeze will result in shoppers going back to basics. Brands will be pipped to the post by unbranded products more than ever. But brands need to still exist, so what do we do?

It’s about focusing on your USP and sustainability values, building very personalized or custom experiences to differentiate from unbranded products that at a cheap price point just can’t do that, and thinking about diversifying your portfolio with new product development. Just saying “I’m branded” isn’t good enough any more. You have to go into this experiential space to validate it. Brands have to do more.

Emma Moore, product marketing manager, Zappar: The dawn of ‘experience commerce’

We’ll be moving into the immersive commerce and experience commerce space – away from traditional e-commerce. There’ll be a lot more exploration into augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR); it’ll all be about creating experiences and making people have a memorable time with the brand, putting the customer first and removing the product from the center of the sales solution or offering. It’s all about the experiences that retailers add.

Shamsul Chowdhury, vice-president of paid social, Jellyfish: Brand purpose

Consumers are expecting brands to stand for something, beyond just the product. People like Patagonia from the sustainability angle, and Nike with their whole ability to be inclusive. I think that will be a big part of consumers deciding where to put their money.

Federico D’Uva, marketing lead, Rawnet: Using what you’ve got

We talk a lot about brand new tech, but there are always costs there: they’re not super accessible. Not everyone who wants to do drop shipping or break into VR and AR can afford to.

But since Covid-19, the director-to-customer (DTC) journey has completely changed. Brands have capitalized on that, reaching maturity. It’s not so much about, ‘what else can we take away from our retailers? What else can we be doing?’ It’s more about retention. For brands that are price-competitive, things such as shipping speed and user experience (UX) are key. How easy is it to check out? How quickly am I going to get that product? Those precedents have been set by companies such as Amazon. Brands without vast amounts of money are going to have to start looking at quick wins.

We have to look at increasing lifetime value; those people that are already brand-aware should be the easiest to tap into. Brands need to make money. It’s about how we can min-max without having to invest so much in new tech, which essentially makes the cost per acquisition increase.

Gabriel Miller, president of the Americas, Landor and Fitch: five more for luck

We’re shifting from a transaction to an interaction, and that means it’s all about the experiences.

DTC v private label will shift from a skirmish to an all-out war. Connected packaging will be omnipresent – the humble QR code is here to stay, but it will evolve. AR is going to no longer be a stunt; it’s going to move into the mainstream and be used more ubiquitously. And NFTs will reinvent themselves and be functional v just collectible. No more just sitting on a digital wall.

Responses have been edited for brevity and readability. For more hot takes and predictions, head over to our e-commerce deep dive hub.

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VMLY&R is a global marketing agency that harnesses creativity, technology, and culture to create connected brands. The agency is made up of nearly 7,000 employees worldwide with principal offices in Kansas City, London, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. VMLY&R works with client partners including Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dell, Ford, Office Depot, Pfizer and Wendy's.

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Zappar is the world’s leading augmented reality platform and creative studio for mobile and web apps. Since 2011, Zappar’s mission has been to democratise AR and get it into the hands and lives of as many people as possible, unlocking value for businesses and end-users alike.

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Jellyfish is a marketing performance company for the platform world, where success demands a creative, multi-platform mindset. We help brands thrive, by navigating, connecting, and harnessing the platforms that drive growth.

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Rawnet is a digital agency that defines, designs, delivers and drives strategic products and services that create a long-term positive impact.

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